Unlike my last article where I tell you how to mentally prepare yourself for your trip to Hong Kong (Please read before embarking to Hong Kong --> here), this article is going to be in order of my favorite things to do in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Symphony of Lights
This should be at the top of every travelers list of things to do in Hong Kong. The Symphony of lights will fill your desire for incredible skyline views and will give you an opportunity to wow your friends back home on social media. No other city around the world has this kind of incredible skyline. As darkness falls on the city the skyline is lit up with a 10 minute light show perfectly synced to appealing music. The show starts at 8pm Hong Kong time every night. Make sure to get on the viewing platform at the Avenue of Stars early. No later than 7:30pm if you want to get a front row view!
Opposite of the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars is the Victoria Peak. It's on top of the mountain behind the Hong Kong Island skyline you're looking at if you go to the Avenue of Stars. This is a truly unique perspective on the Hong Kongs skyline. To get there you'll have to take a bus as the Hong Kong MTR doesn't go up the mountain (for obvious reasons) but the bus ride is pretty harrowing. If you're not freaked out by driving along ledges get a seat long the windows of the upper level of the KMB bus. The views are stunning. Between the Avenue of Stars and Victoria Peak, you'll be spoiled when it comes to skyline views.
Tian Tan Buddha
The Tian Tan Buddha is a 112 foot tall bronze Buddha on the top of a peak near the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. Also know as, "Big Buddha" this monument is supposed to represent the harmony between man and nature, and people and faith. It's the biggest outdoor Buddha in the world and while most Buddhas are facing south, Big Buddha faces north, towards mainland China.
It's a major Buddhist attraction in Hong Kong and around the Asian Continent. Don't be shocked to see Buddhist devotedly praying as they make their way up the stairs to the bottom of the monument.
Once you're at Big Buddhas doorstep, make sure to walk around the monument and really take in the surrounding views. It's incredibly pretty.
The Tian Tan Buddha is located on Lantau Island. It's the same island where Hong Kong International Airport is located. You can get here via the MTR or a ferry from Central. The ferry takes about an hour if you take the slow ferry but the fast ferry takes 45 minutes. I took the fast ferry and enjoyed the experience. It cost me just $31 HKD which is $3.95 USD. I imagine the MTR takes roughly the same time but you might be underground for most of it which gives you nothing to look at. When taking the ferry or the MTR, you'll have to take a bus to the Po Lin Monastery which takes about an hour once you arrive on the island. The views as you traverse up the mountain on the bus are really something special so make sure you get a window seat.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
I'm lucky to have stayed with a local for my first two nights in the city who told me about this magnificent Monastery. Otherwise I might not have seen it. It did not disappoint.
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is located at the Sha Tin station on the light blue line that goes north from Hong Kong to the border with mainland China. It's another place that is made easy to get to via the MTR. It's absolutely worth a visit. Just be prepared for a hike up a steep hill so comfortable walking shoes are required.
Fun Fact: there are actually over 12,000 Buddha statues at this monastery.
Old Central Police Station & Victoria Prison
This centrally located historical site on Hong Kong Island was once a police station when the city was still under British rule. It was constructed in 1864 and then added to between 1910 and 1925. It also served as a prison. The cells here still exist (see the picture) and it's eye opening just how small the spaces are.
Today it serves as a museum and historical site for visitors to the island. You can access the prison and it's subsequent prison yard among the tall skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island via the Central MTR station.
It's definitely worth a visit as a nice reminder to how bad conditions were for people caught up with the law in colonial days.
Man Mo Temple
To be honest I still don't really understand much about this hidden Hong Kong gem. It's not Buddhist but apparently it's its own denomination and they prey to two gods. One for athletics and one for education.
The black circles at the top are large winding incense that are always burning. The black circles keep the hot ashes from the burning incense from dropping on people. Anyways, there is a message written in Cantonese in each one and this denomination believes that the messages will reach the gods via the smoke.
Man Mo Temple is located off the central MTR stop.
Pottinger Street is a unique street in the central district of Hong Kong Island. I don't know the significance of the street but it's very unlike the streets in the area. Pottinger Street is cobblestone and is a down hill slope. Beyond that and it's British name, that's all I got. It's worth a walk down to check out. It's pretty unique compared to the surrounding area.
You can get to Pottinger Street via the Central MTR station. It's in the same area as Man Mo Temple and the old police station and prison. For practicality reasons you should do those three in the same day.
Temple Street Markets
Temple Street Markets are the famous street markets of Hong Kong. It's definitely worth checking out while you're in Hong Kong but don't feel the need to buy anything. The people that run the street setups will often work very hard to encourage you to buy stuff. If you do want to purchase any items don't pay face value. You can haggle them to lower the price.
The Temple Street Markets are located off the Jordan MTR stop on the red line.
These are my top eight things to do in Hong Kong. There are plenty of other things worth spending time and money checking out in the city and it's surrounding areas. Macau is certainly another one but I'm going to write about Macau next. It is, after all, an entirely different country!
When in Hong Kong, one must take a ride on the 120 year old Star Ferry. Costing just $.50 USD and taking just 10 minutes, it won't take up much of your time and certainly won't make a dent in your pocketbook.
Unknowingly, I took this ferry several times while in Hong Kong and took it's historical significance for granted.
The Star Ferry started in 1880 with one steamboat called the Morning Star. The journey across the harbor took an hour. Today it takes just 10 minutes and there are at least two double-decker boats going back-and-forth between Hong Kong and Kowloon. Originally the ferry could only take 100 passengers at a time. Today it can take 762 passengers.